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How big of a deal is having a carbon tiller. I just have the standard wood one and have no problems with it, but my friends tell me that I need to upgrade. Do you need a low profile carbon fiber tiller (like from rooster), can i get an aluminum round one (I think OP sells one), or should I just stick with the standard wood one.

I do have a problem with my tiller, though. It is only 32" long and I can't hike out flat. What is a good length to have but still be able to tack without too much difficulty. The Fatso Jr. from acme says that 48" is good for a Laser, but that seems really long.

Advantages of Carbon

There must be advantages to carbon - why else would all the top sailors use them? The advantage of carbon is:


This means that is does not bend as much as wood or aluminium resulting in better "feel" and a more positive helm but also that carbon tillers can be made thinner - ie low profile.

The lower the profile of the tiller, the tighter you can pull the traveller and so more leech tension can be acheived.

Carbon extensions are good because they don't bend as much as aluminium ones.

I use a rooster tiller and holt carbon extension and I have found this to work well. Long extensions allow you to hike flatter and move further forward in the boat (useful for light winds and fiddling with stuff at the mast etc.) 48" sounds about right.
Not to mention that they are extremely light and remember that the longer they are, the more sensitive it will be to movement. So if you plan on switching as recomended, be aware of those differeces. The Ronstan Battlestick series is also a high quality solution.
all my friends tease me for having such a long tiller extension (carbonfiber) but, the way i see it, i can hike SO much harder than them, it's funny to watch the guys with the alunimum ones trying to keep their boats flat in the heavy air.
I have a 46" golf grip aluminum RWO that I'm very happy with. Tacking with such a length did take some adjustments, but I would not go back to a shorter extension mainly because I spend a lot of time in light air very far forward.

As far as helm sensitivity goes, I will not argue against a carbon fiber extension since I have never used one. But they are more than double the price of the extension I use, and because I no longer race where ounces matter, I dont' feel such a supposed return is worth while.
I think that carbon fiber is not that much of an advantage. Ive tried both and the wood is just as good. The carbon may be a bit liter but it is not worth the money.
Yeah, I'd have to agree. It is sooo lite it seems almost weightless. But some people really like to feel the rudder and perfer the wooden or heavier one so it wouldn't be as sentsitive = less little movements = less drag.
That is true too. Good point. That is the same way with me. I find that for some reason going downwind is my best point of sail and usually pass 3 or 4 boats. Like Will implied, by the feel of the rudder, you can gain much data and make the changes you need.
You don't see me at the worlds cos I dont have thousands to spend on tickets etc or the means to get to qualifiers in the UK to get grants cos im only 16...
If you want a genius, consult an ex-restronguet (my current club) sailor called Ben. (Ainslie...)
Carbon can also be very brittle due to resin inconsistency.
However, resins are getting better and failures less frequent.
Also, if you capsize/fall out of boat and hold the end of the extension, the middle catches on the gunwhale exerting huge forces on the tube - remember doing moments/torques on physics? (Moment = Force X Distance etc) This puts a lot of force on a small area resulting in high pressure and possibly failure...